Man United 1 Man City 0
Manchester United 1 Manchester City 0, Old Trafford, English Football League First Division, March 22, 1980. Welsh international Mickey Thomas scored the winning goal for Dave Sexton´s Manchester United team in a closely contested 1-0 First Division triumph against Manchester City in front of a boisterous crowd of more than 56,000 spectators at Old Trafford in the 100th Manchester Derby.
Born and growing up in the small rural village of Mochdre in North Wales, Mickey Thomas had started his roller coaster playing career with Division Three club Wrexham in 1969 at the age of fifteen. According to an old Welsh saying, the best Welshmen are those who live their lives outside of Wales. As for Thomas, the hard-hitting and strong-running flanker was later during his professional life to appear for a number of Football League teams, including Manchester United, Brighton and Hove Albion, West Bromwich Albion, Shrewsbury Town, and Leeds United before he at long last rejoined first love Wrexham on a free transfer in the summer of 1991. All in all, the wayward wing forward clocked up an impressive 603 Football League appearances for his various clubs between 1972 and 1993, contributing 77 hits during the process. As for honours, he won the Third Division Championship with Wrexham in 1977-78 as well as the Second Division Championship with Chelsea in 1983-84. He also received an FA Cup runners up medal with United in 1979, when the red shirts suffered a 3-2 defeat against Arsenal, and during his two spells at Stoke City, he was named Player of the Year in both 1982-83 and 1990-91. Mickey Thomas later said himself that Manchester United was probably a little bit too big for him, and that he never properly settled down at the club. On the international level, he amassed a total of 51 appearances for Wales and played with great internationals in the shape of Brian Flynn, Mark Hughes, Robbie James, Kevin Ratcliffe, Ian Rush, and Neville Southall between 1976 and 1986.
Second placed Manchester United had played out a goalless draw with top-flight newcomers Brighton and Hove Albion at Goldstone Ground in their last First Division fixture, while relegation struggling Manchester City had suffered a heavy 3-0 defeat against high-flying Arsenal at their Maine Road home. In the reverse meeting of the 1979-80 season, United had been on the receiving end of a 2-0 defeat against City at Maine Road and they were looking to extract revenge on their neighbours. At Old Trafford, both sides tentatively felt each other out during the early stages of the derby match. Manchester United came close to taking an early lead, however, when Scotland international Joe Jordan almost converted a dangerous cross ball from Northern Ireland midfielder Sammy McIlroy, but his fierce header was blocked by the Manchester City defence. And then a little bit later in the game, Mickey Thomas received the ball only a few yards outside the penalty area and burst forward into the box, before unleashing a powerful low shot which home goalkeeper Joe Corrigan just managed to save. And shortly after in the first period, Manchester City playmaker Steve Daley hit a long distance shot, only to watch Gary Bailey in the Manchester United goal pull off a magnificent save.
Following the half time refreshments, The Manchester Reds finally broke the defensive deadlock as offensive minded fullback Arthur Albiston found England international winger Steve Coppell who back-heeled the ball to Thomas whose effort deflected off Manchester City midfielder Tony Henry and over Corrigan three minutes into the second period. The Light Blues hit back immediately and local born attacker Roger Palmer had a great opportunity to equalise for the visitors, but his shot from inside the eighteen-yard area went wide. The Manchester Derby swung to and fro between the two teams, but the Old Trafford outfit held firm and eventually won the pulsating contest by the score of one to nothing thanks to the early second half goal from Thomas. The result at Maine Road meant that Manchester United remained second in the Division One standings with 44 points collected from 33 matches played, six points adrift of leaders Liverpool. Manchester City, meanwhile, now found themselves just four points ahead of Derby County who were sitting 20th in the table. Manchester United Team: Gary Bailey, Jimmy Nicholl, Gordon McQueen, Arthur Albiston, Martin Buchan, Ray Wilkins, Lou Macari, Joe Jordan, Sammy McIlroy, Mickey Thomas, Steve Coppell. Substitute: Ashley Grimes. Manchester City Team: Joe Corrigan, Ray Ranson, Nicky Reid, Tommy Booth, Tommy Caton, Paul Power, Steve Daley, Tony Henry, Kevin Reeves, Denis Tueart, David Bennett. Substitute: Roger Palmer.